Buy the right size. Get measured in a bike shop and try on the helmets in your size to find the one that feels snug. Use the interchangable pads you may get with the helmet to customise the fit or cinch in all the lock-to-the-head features.
The helmet’s front brim should be a finger’s width above the eyebrows. The helmet should be level rather than tipped to the front or rear.
Once fitted, and the retention straps tightened, the helmet should take the scalp with it when it’s pushed rather than slip across the head.
Use only those helmets designed for cycling. Do not use helmets designed for climbing or canoeing or other sports. These helmets can be heavy, offer little side impact protection and have no proper ventilation slots.
All helmets sold in pukka bike shops will be tested to certain ‘crash test’ standards. There are American tests, Australian tests, British Standard tests and European tests. All have a confusing array of capital letters and numbers. The Snell test was always the toughest to pass but very few helmet manufacturers now put their products through this test because consumers want lightweight, airy helmets (which would tend to fail Snell tests).
Look for plenty of vents, cooling is important.
Make sure the helmet looks good. This is so you wear it often and is an important consideration when buying helmets for kids. You don’t want them taking their helmets off when they turn the corner.
Any helmet which suffers a severe blow should be replaced, even if the damage isn’t apparent. Some manufacturers replace accident-damaged helmets at a reduced price.
Old helmets should also be replaced. Change yours now if it’s three years old or over.
Don’t leave your helmet on the back window ledge of a car. Direct sunlight can melt the plastic shell. And wash only with soap and water, not solvents.
Wearing a helmet will not protect your head in all eventualities. Do not cycle faster or more dangerously because you wear head protection.